Here's the Introduction...
A magical phrase, it conjures images of sultry harem girls, exotic perfume, tinkling finger cymbals, and undulating hips. People are so drawn to this imagery one rarely finds mention of the dance that doesn't evoke it. Yet this trope is only one facet of the jewel that is belly dance.
People see and use the dance in many ways. It is a movement vocabulary, a way to express sensuality, a venue for perfectionism, a sexy treat for the male gaze, a pretty bauble, an elastic medium adaptable to anyone’s preconceptions and values. It is a fun way to get exercise, a dress-up opportunity, a bonding experience. It is entertainment, even art. But as we delve deeply into the dance, we find much more than this. Why do millions of people love this beautiful, joyous dance? What secret does belly dance carry, deep in its wild heart?
This book makes the case for the dance not only as an ancient, beautiful art, but also as a soul and spirit-healing venue for joy, a mind-body practice that equals (and in some ways, may surpass), yoga, tai-chi, sitting meditation, etc., in its effectiveness and power.
Sparkly little belly dance has immense power. People are drawn to it because they sense this, though they may not know how to access it. When they come to a class, they are usually taught a sterilized version--stylized, choreographed, counted, body-control to recorded music. This is not the dance they were looking for. But it’s all they can find, all that’s available, so okay.
It is not okay with me. I am here to shine a light on the magic and mystery of our dance. There is a more to this dance than meets the eye, and those less-visible elements are its most vital and rewarding--for dancers, their guests, and the world.
This book is NOT an academic research project. The few citations mostly come from conversation with beta readers as the book grew and from memorable revelations as I have grown as a dancer and come to understand its—and my—culture of origin.
This book IS a love letter to the dance that has nourished me for forty-five years. It is a manifesto, the conclusions to which I have come over 45 years of devotion to this dance. It is for those who want something deep and real. It is given as a beacon of light welcoming dancers home to the soul of their beloved dance.
We are drawn to this dance because we feel something from it, something deep and soulful. It is real. It is there. The dance waits for you, a hidden seed, trembling with life, ready to blossom in your heart and soul. It is filled with joy--beautiful, loving, and free--and so are you.
I invite you to step into joy.
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